Friday, February 24, 2012

Deal alert!

You wouldn't call it March Madness or anything, but Emerald Isle Realty is offering a vacation deal through the month of March: 3 days for the price of 2 or 4 days for the price of 3.

If nothing else, it's a good kite-flying month. You can watch basketball March Madness in between long walks on the beach! And with the weather so warm during these first few months of 2012, chances are good that it'll be pleasant next month.

Go here for details of the deal.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

In honor of President's Day

We took the grandsons on an exploration of the places where George Washington grew up, and from that trip last year, I wrote a piece for The Charlotte Observer.

Here's the link. It's not North Carolina travel, but it's a trip close enough that North Carolinians can easily make. The trip offers children (and adults) information that they ought to know about our nation's founding.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The state of state tourism

Set free the North Carolina Zoo? Shutter the Museum of the Albemarle? Cut adrift aquariums in three North Carolina coastal cities?

Newspapers are reporting that a state legislative oversight committee is considering those and other major changes to state-owned cultural -- and tourism -- sites. The goal is to cut state spending in the coming save money.

Here's my two cents. Regardless of your political persuasion, if you think it's an important issue, make sure you write your legislators.

I don't fault state leaders for wanting to save money wherever they can. Times are tight, here and everywhere. I'd be worried if they weren't looking for savings.

But tourism isn't the places to cut.

The state only has one premier zoo, and privatizing it, as the committee suggests, could put it in jeopardy. It also puts Asheboro at the mercy of a private company.

Same with the aquariums, which are gems of state tourism. They are packed most summer months, and do robust business in the spring and fall seasons. Parents who rent cottages for a week count on a day at the aquariums for their youngsters.

The study on which the report is based, written by a state agency, also recommends closing some sites during slow periods. That's fine, if there's solid proof that staying open is a sure-fire money-loser.

But not the big, drastic changes. North Carolina is a tourism state. Residents are proud of our place. Out-of-staters flock here, spend money, provide tax revenue and support thousands of jobs. Besides, all of the changes would save just $2 million a year. That is, as they say, a rounding error in a $19 billion budget.

One other thing: whatever changes are made, they ought to be temporary. One day, this recession will end. North Carolina needs to be ready to throw back open the doors when that happens.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Traveling on your stomachs

In these tight economic times -- or anytime if you have three or four children -- travelers are always on the hunt for ways to save money. Food and fuel are often major expenses, and there’s not much to do about filling up.

This MSNBC article, however, has some good tips for saving on victuals. The writer focuses on longer travel destinations, but the ideas are easily transferrable to the overnight, long weekend or even long vacation.

From navigating grocery stores to street vendors.

Bon app├ętit!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Kids, adults, go wild for wildlife

Here's something to look forward to, for you and the youngsters.

The 4th Annual Cape Fear Wildlife Expo is next month (March 16-18) in Wilmington. It's a family event whose mission is to encourage youth to enjoy the outdoors through hunting, fishing and other sports; to heighten public awareness of our natural resources; and to encourage conservation.

Here's what you'll enjoy: wildlife art and decoy displays; book signings by regional writers; hunting and fishing products; fly-fishing and decoy-carving demonstrations; conservation exhibits; outdoor sports guides and outfitters; and boats, truck and ATV displays.

Kids interactive activities include Sensory Safari, Aquatic Trailer, Mallard Madness Laser Shoot and Muzzy 200 Club Monster Buck display

There is an admission charge: adults $10.00, 65 and over $7.00, children 10 years and under free.

More facts: venue is the Wilmington Convention Center. Call 910-795-0292 or visit

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Road trip weather

The weather is just too nice to pass up traveling this weekend.

We drove to Wilmington a few days ago for a day trip. Spent an hour

downtown in a wonderful coffee shop before heading to Wrightsville Beach. We packed sandwiches for lunch, and with just the beach chairs and our trusty beach blanket, we had a warm afternoon of waves, smiles and relaxation.

Of course you don’t have to head east. Except for that rockslide on the Tennessee side of I-40, there is nothing to keep you from a day or an overnight in Western North Carolina. Little or no snow to worry about. If it’s skiing you’re looking for, I understand that operators are keeping their snow machines humming. Or just stare at the majesty of the mountains and be inspired.

There's pottery being thrown in the Sandhills. Old towns to explore in the Inner Banks.

Or just head to a museum you’ve been wanting to visit. Or a state historic site.

That’s one of the good things about living in North Carolina. It could be the dead of winter and still be pleasant enough for a road trip.